The Arrival by Shaun Tan

I normally put a quote from the book at the beginning of every post, but I can’t for this one-there are no words!  But with this book, the pictures are so beautiful and tell such a good story, you don’t even miss the words.

This is a graphic novel that tells the story of a family.  The country they live in isn’t safe, and they have to immigrate to a new one.  The father leaves first, gets on a ship, and tries to find a job in the new country.  He hopes to save up enough money to send for his family so that they can all be together again.

Life in the new country is strange and hard.  He doesn’t know the language, and all the food looks different.  He tries to find a job hanging posters, but accidentally hangs them upside down because he can’t understand the strange symbols of the new language.  When he goes to buy bread at the store, the storekeeper shows him many fruits and veggies that he doesn’t even recognize, much less know how to cook.  Instead of dogs and cats, there are beautiful, unusual pets that look like magical creatures.  Along the way, he meets other immigrants and, in pictures, they tell him their own stories.

We’ve all read stories about immigrants, but usually, the story is about a specific person moving to a specific country.  But in this book, we don’t ever know the new country, or even the old one.  It could be on another planet, even!  I love it, because it really makes you feel like the immigrant; you understand what it’s like to move to an unfamiliar place and not understand what’s going on.

The illustrations are fantastic.  It’s like looking through an old photograph album, full of fanciful creations and unusual buildings.  You should get to know the illustrator, too, because he just won an Oscar for his short film(adapted from a story) calledThe Lost Thing.

Oh, and if you’re worried about the ending, don’t be-the whole family gets together in the end! I have to admit, I cried a little when they did.  Please don’t miss this book!

Happy Reading!

Author’s website:

Tan, Shaun. The Arrival.Arthur A. Levine Books: New York, 2007.  128 pp. Ages 8 and up.  ISBN. 978-0439895293

If you liked this book, try his other book, Tales from Outer Suburbia, or The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.


Oh, Kirkus Reviews just posted this about Shaun Tan.  It’s lovely!

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